Bug 92902 - Enhancement Request: Auto-Layout for flowcharts and automatic flowcharts from Calc / Excel
Summary: Enhancement Request: Auto-Layout for flowcharts and automatic flowcharts from...
Status: NEW
Alias: None
Product: LibreOffice
Classification: Unclassified
Component: Draw (show other bugs)
(earliest affected)
Hardware: Other All
: medium enhancement
Assignee: Not Assigned
Keywords: needsUXEval
Depends on:
Blocks: ImpressDraw-Enhancements
  Show dependency treegraph
Reported: 2015-07-24 02:42 UTC by mrmister001
Modified: 2021-06-03 09:24 UTC (History)
2 users (show)

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Crash report or crash signature:


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Description mrmister001 2015-07-24 02:42:53 UTC
Hi, there are two features that are absolutely necessary for Draw.

1) Auto-Layout
When you create a flowchart and you organize the boxes, it would be amazing, you have to possibility to change the whole organization to a completely new perspective. That is auto-layout.
There is a free program called yED that do this exactly.

See how this work in action here:

2) Importing from Calc / Excel to create automatically flowcharts
This feature is very easy to achive and incredibly great.
Imagine you have in a spreadsheet two colums

Source     Target
John       Sales
Mike       R+D
Peter      Sales
Dana       Accounting
Richard    Sales

In the source colum you to something that connect with the target, and so on.
Then you fill all the rows, save your spreadsheet and when you import it from Draw, it create automatically the flowchart.
There is a video in Spanish that illustrate perfectly the example.
To see how this works, please watch this video:

Comment 1 Heiko Tietze 2016-05-01 08:31:47 UTC
This feature was requested a couple of times in the Draw survey [1]. As a solution it was also suggested to adopt Microsoft's SmartArt [2] (see comments). The feature could be added to the sidebar, perhaps based on some generic layout that needs to be finished although [3].

Status: New, Importance: Medium (other features are more pressing)

[1] https://design.blog.documentfoundation.org/2016/04/01/the-many-faced-god-part-2-how-libreoffice-draw-is-expected-to-evolve/
[2] https://youtu.be/Y86bhcinaJA
[3] http://user-prompt.com/de/libreoffice-design-session-shapes/
Comment 3 mrmister001 2016-05-01 22:27:12 UTC
Hi Heiko,
Thanks for your reply.
However I don't know if you understood the feature very well. You cannot compare this with templates or Smart Art, because it is not.
To understand how an auntomatic flowchart works you must think in two columns, from a spreadsheet.
Think in column A and column B.
The idea behind this is that you draw boxes according the data provided in the column A
And you link this data with the results provided in the column B
If some data from column A (Source) is repeated... and match new data from column B (Tarfet), then we draw multiple boxes
For example, let's imagine in column A (Source) we have a list of names, and in the column B (Target) we have a list of departments.

Source     Target
John       Sales
Mike       R+D
Peter      Sales
Dana       Accounting
Richard    Sales
John       Customer Service
Peter      Customer Service

What will happen is due John is related to the Sales and also to the Customer Service, Draw will create two boxes, one indicating Sales and the other Customer Service, and both boxes will be connected to John, which will be represented also in a box.
Mike for example, will be inside a box and will be connected with R+D which will be also inside a box. Mike won't have more connections because is not connected more new data.
Peter will experience the same behavior as John, because he works in Sales and also in the Customer Service, so we will see how draw create a Box for Peter, and connect this box with two new boxes, one indicating Sales and the other Customer Service. Peter will be connected to these new boxes, thru lines.
That is the sense behind automatic flowcharting.

It is made in Jave, and free to download.

I really encourage everyone to understand how YED works and apply the same philoshopy to Draw.

I remind also that Visio don't have this feature, so basically if this is implemented inside Draw, it would make Visio bleed deeply.
Comment 4 Heiko Tietze 2016-05-02 08:14:49 UTC
No worries, the design team hasn't started to think about the realization. Right now I just collect existing tickets, and create new if necessary, to cover what people request from Draw. And auto layout is on the wish list.

yEd is well known (I used it myself a couple of times). But keep in mind that others may have a different approach to the task. What we need is an "integrative solution". How about something like a function "Organize" that restructures your flat list into the SmartArt tree?
Comment 5 mrmister001 2016-05-02 23:38:42 UTC
Hi Heiko,
In 2013 I did a video demonstration, and posted it in Youtube. The video is hidden, so only people knowing the link can access it.

Here is the video:

Please, share the video with the design team.
In the video I suggest an integrative solution, with a window called "Automation". The window basically do what you describe, it handles lists, which are considered tags... and it connect tags.
Also it is able to apply a different formating to the automation process.
This demonstration is even years ahead of yED. It is quite better, because give you so much control of the diagram, making true automation in seconds.

I guess you are very busy, but please, I would love if you could grab 10 minutes, just to see the half of it, in which the feature is described.
It shows an approach very similar to the one you have in mind, I think.
Comment 6 Bastián Díaz 2016-05-03 00:08:28 UTC
(In reply to mrmister001 from comment #5)
> Hi Heiko,
> In 2013 I did a video demonstration, and posted it in Youtube. The video is
> hidden, so only people knowing the link can access it.
> Here is the video:
> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LOBjTe-N_-I

Wow... I knew what the survey to improve Draw, I was looking for this video because the idea is good. It provides an automated system to create different types of diagrams easily (as does SmartDraw)

Thank you for showing again.
Comment 7 mrmister001 2016-05-03 01:40:49 UTC
Thanks a lot Bastian, I suggested the idea in 2013 and did the video... so if you consider I could help during the design process, please let me know. I would love to collaborate with the design team if they allow me to. :D
Comment 8 Heiko Tietze 2016-05-03 07:04:09 UTC
(In reply to mrmister001 from comment #5)
> Here is the video:
> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LOBjTe-N_-I

You should get hired as documentation specialist ;-).

On the first glance: Pretty nice way to enter the data quickly. It makes me wonder if that workflow couldn't be also used as well for mindmaps and tag clouds, somehow.
The visual configuration with the shape type or distance should not be part of the auto creation, IMHO.

(In reply to mrmister001 from comment #7)
> I would love to collaborate with the design team if they allow me to. :D

Of course you are welcome (as everyone else). http://www.libreoffice.org/community/design/

Regarding this ticket we could run a session and finalize the workflow. It should cover the automatic generation for block diagrams in general. But then we get to the bottleneck of developers - it's not an easyhack, I guess.
Comment 9 Heiko Tietze 2016-05-03 07:04:43 UTC Comment hidden (obsolete)
Comment 10 mrmister001 2016-05-04 02:23:18 UTC
Cool. Hire me as documentation specialicist !!! ;-)

Of course you can use this way to create mind maps and everything you want.
I work with theoretical physics many times, so I need to connect theories to visualize maps.
Visualizing information is absolutely necessary for every flow chart, it has applications in many areas, programming, organizational tasks, office, management, academical, etc.
I don't know if have you used Gephi? for Data Visualization. I developed the idea of the Automation window because it is easy to create everything you want... and connect it. 
You type, you connect, you type, you connect, as easy as that.
HOWEVER, this idea need a SAVE BUTTON... to save the introduced data... or you can avoid the save button and the introduced data then is recorded automatically inside the Draw file.
Also, it would be cool if we add to the automation Window several presets for an autoalign in the same style as yED. You can vary the way the flowchart looks, just by selecting other approach to the organization.
In yED you have layout and then a lot of presets, hierarchical... organic... orthogonal... circular... tree. That is pretty cool. We should have also templates to organize the way the charts looks in the automation window.
Comment 11 Tomaz Vajngerl 2016-05-12 11:13:54 UTC

*** This bug has been marked as a duplicate of bug 37932 ***
Comment 12 Heiko Tietze 2016-05-12 19:32:37 UTC
Reopening. SmartArt is similar but not the same as suggested here. It is linked at see also, and I think it makes sense to keep both until we have a good proposal that not just covers what Visio (or someone else) does.